Strategic Questions For Outside Sales First Meetings. Avoid Prospect Vaporization.

WHAT ARE THE BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK AT A FIRST MEETING THAT ADVANCE A SALE?

First meetings that lay a solid foundation for a sale are not the result of accident, your witty repartee or your shining personality (nobody cares).

You will advance or make a sale at a first meeting as a result of information you obtain that enables you to focus solely on what is important to your prospect.

A typical first meeting will last 30-40 minutes. You can’t count on more. You need time for an intro and a wrap-up. How much time does that leave you to get the info you need? How many questions can you ask and get answered in that time. What would be the best questions to ask to accomplish your objectives?

Here are some questions you can ask. Incorporate these or similar questions into your client needs analysis. There are more types of questions you should ask that will be addressed in future issues.

The 2nd phase of a successful first meeting is the inquiry phase. What has happened in the past, what is happening now, what are the plans for the future? Make inquiries both as to the company and the individual you are meeting with.

What is the company history with this type of service?
Have you personally done a lot of work with this service?
What have you accomplished in the past with this service?
Did it work?
How happy were you personally with the way things worked out?
How did you decide that?
Why did you select that process?

As most people have worked with companies like you in the past it would be important to ask questions about that history. Ask how and why questions. Asking in depth about the past provides clues as to how this individual and the company thinks.

When asking about the past, indirectly you are asking how they came about selecting a particular vendor.

Then we ask questions about the present.  Write down the specific questions that you need to ask as you are focusing on specific behaviors.

What are you trying to accomplish now?
How does your company usually operate in this area?
How do you usually do this?
What are you doing now in regard to these services?
Why are you doing it this way?
Why did you choose this method?
How is it being used?
How is it working from your point of view?
How do you develop your reports to management?
Why does the organization track this information?

Enable them to talk about how they view the present situation.

Get more info with the question .. is there anything else?

It is always about the individual and the organization, not you nor your product or service offering.

As to questions about the future, we are now trying to lay a foundation for our request.

What would you personally like to accomplish in the future?
What is the company trying to get done in the long term in this area?
How would you like to accomplish that?
When would you like to achieve that goal?
How will you be evaluating your current system?

Point is to develop all the info necessary to move the sale forward or to make a mutual decision not to, at least for the time being. You may very well conclude that the odds of winning this piece of business is not high, or that they are not close to making a decision, so it may be best to make a mutual decision not to pursue a piece of business at any particular time.

Many times there is a reluctance to go into depth with these types of questions. Many times sales people hesitate to give the prospect an opportunity to express any doubts, fears or regrets. It is important to know their doubts and fears so that you can address them. If you don’t know them, you can’t address them. Fears and doubts not addressed cost you the sale every time. Ask good questions.

Best wishes with your selling,
Scott Channell

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